A book review of Ulitmate Crush: Waseda University Rugby, Leadership and Building the Strongest Winning Team in Japan Katsuyuki Kiyomiya translated by Ian Ruxton. The Japanese love slogans. Ultimate Crush, which was coined for the Waseda University rugby team, translates differently according to the dialect used*, but the core meaning of “overwhelming victory” is clear. MORE
Rugby coaching tips for team captains
Key rugby coaching tips
Keep instructions simple
- Whatever the captain says, it should be simple and understandable.
- When a captain starts to ask for complicated targets, players become demotivated.
- The difficulty and the size of the task seem too daunting. To avoid this, on the pitch, the captain should translate targets into small segments of effort. For instance, "Let's up the pressure for the next five minutes boys."
Understand players' fears
- Understanding fears from a player's point of view is an essential skill for captains.
- A motivational captain keeps the players feeling secure. A fear of failure will inhibit players – they need encouragement when they are afraid. The captain will often be the closest person of authority to ensure this happens.
- A secondary message, a message passed via another player from the captain, can also boost player confidence should they feel under pressure.
- Often a player will fear for his place in the side. A captain will be able to communicate this fear to the rugby coach and together they can work to make the player feel secure for this match.
- Of course, should the player be too secure, the reverse motivational talk might be required!
- Once a player feels secure, especially in his role and position in the team, the next level of motivation is to build self-esteem.
- A key rugby coaching tip is to make the player understand their self-worth. You are born with self-worth and it grows with your ability. A captain can show a player what they are capable of, remind them of their best moments in previous games or training.
Fire up players' imagination
- A captain needs to help the players imagine their best. This prepares the mind, and focuses the thoughts.
- Every player will improve with the ability to close his eyes and "see" the next process. The captain can encourage this.
- "Remember what it was like when… " should be a well-worn phrase as the captain gathers the players at a stoppage.
Create a challenge
- A competitive player responds to a challenge. The captain's role is to create this challenge as the rugby game progresses.
- "Are you better than that player? Do you want to beat that target?" These might be the words ringing in the ears of the good players as the captain individually addresses each of them.
- A good rugby team captain can be motivational to a team, because he is the "team."
- When a decision is made, the team captain takes responsibility. Should an error of judgment occur, then the captain shoulders this.
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